Not only is March a great month because it indicates that Spring is right around the corner, it's also a great month because it recognizes two of the very things that will save the world: women and social work. In all seriousness, March is an excellent time to celebrate and reflect on all the sacrifices, hard work, and dedication that women and social workers have devoted to enhancing the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities across the country.
Unfortunately, women’s incredible impact on individuals, families, and communities is often overlooked because of their gender, sexual orientation, and/or race. Furthermore, the remarkable work of social workers is frequently undermined and highly underpaid. As our discipline highlights, feminism promotes intersectionality, so KSCSW would like to highlight how some of the great women in the field left their social work footprint throughout time.
Jane Addams (1860-1935) is Nobel Peace Prize recipient and world renowned as a pioneer social worke in America. Dedicated to her craft, she decided to live amongst the people she was helping in the settlement house she built in 1889- the Hull House in Chicago. There, she provided legal aid, childcare, and offered training in crafts and domestic skills. Addams would focus on Chicago's low-income communities and eventually earn a spot in the Chicago Board of Education and in the School Management Committee.
Wendy Sherman (1949) is a social worker that has worked at the highest levels of regional, national, and international governments to increase safety, advance women's roles, and achieve justice and fairness. Some of her career highlights include serving as the first female Undersecretary for Political Affairs, where she led negotiations for the Iran Nuclear Deal. She credited her social work organizational skills with allowing her to lead the negotiations and bring them to a peaceful end. President Obama would also award Sherman with the National Security Medal.
Dr. Anna Scheyette is a TEDx speaker, social worker, professor, and former Dean of the University of Georgia School of Social Work. Her initial work in social work began by researching community-based interventions for adults with severe mental illnesses. She then would create a research agenda looking at the growing rates of suicide and stress in farmers in the United States. Dr. Scheyette is the Editor in Chief for the Journal of Social Work and is an editorial consultant for Social Work Research and the Journal of Social Work Education.
While the list of prominent women in social work continues, it's important to note that all social workers make up different pieces of the puzzle that together fight for the greater good. Social workers commit much of their life to the well-being of communities, especially those most vulnerable. This is the time to appreciate, celebrate, and honor social workers in your area. Although March, like every month, will come and go, a social worker's impact on individuals, families, and communities will live forever.
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